No Matter How You Slice It?

Challenging the members of my department to take a larger perspective on their role in our collective success, well-being, and happiness.

Have you ever thought about how we tend to slice our world into two parts based on a myriad of criteria - tall or short, old or young, rich or poor? How about parent or child, or along the same lines, giver or taker? Many of you are parents and of course we've all been children. As parents we often find ourselves in the position of being a selfless giver. We make tremendous sacrifices in every regard to ensure that our children's needs are fulfilled.  And as a result, our children are under the mistaken impression that as parents, we exist solely to fulfill their every need, and in return, they have little or no responsibility back towards us.

Certainly this varies with parental style, but in general, it starts out this way, and then over time we begin to socialize our children towards adulthood. And in doing so we begin to educate them that their role, purely as a 'taker' is no longer appropriate, and that they need to both give and take in every dimension of their life.

It is easy to slip back into the comfort and simplicity of that childhood ideal, where our responsibilities are low and it is up to others to be responsible, engaged, and to provide. At different times in our adult life we may have even done this to our spouses, whom I might point out, will quickly rectify the situation and remind us of our responsibilities to be both the giver and taker.

This even translates into the workplace. And in a funny way, as a manager, there are some similarities to the parental role. As a manager it is absolutely one's responsibility to look out for and tend to the needs of our staff. And I'm talking in much larger way than the obvious sort of things such as a suitable place to work, supplies, a desk, and a computer.  People are not machines, nor livestock, rather, they are highly complex emotional beings, and as such their emotional well-being is an important aspect of their overall productivity and the productivity of those around them. So there are other ways that we as managers need to look out for and care for the rest of the organization. But as we do that, we create the risk that at least some of our staff may unconsciously and inadvertently, slip back into that childhood ideal of a 'taker' with little or no responsibilities as a giver.

But we are all adults here, and members of a shared community. Our success, our happiness, and our prosperity are all inextricably intertwined with, and dependent upon, the happiness, well-being, positive attitude, and productivity, associated with each of the others in our department, and really, across the enterprise. This is both a far reaching and also very personal topic, and it may be uncomfortable for you because you may hear it as though I am criticizing you. However I am not. What I am attempting to do is to remind all of you as adults, and very intelligent professionals, that we are all in 'it' together, and being in 'it' is a much more complex issue than merely showing up at eight, being busy till five and then leaving.

It is about honoring and respecting yourself, and everyone around you, as human beings with a job to do and feelings of pride and self worth about what we do and how well we do it.  It's about being empathetic and compassionate with regards to each of our challenges, our successes, and failures.  It's about working together, shoulder to shoulder, hand-in-hand to achieve a common goal. We are absolutely in this together, and it would be foolish to think otherwise.  It's about thinking in a larger way than just showing up to do your job, and instead, thinking what can I do to enhance our workplace, our job, our spirit, and our chances for greater success. And in doing so, we increase our own chances for greater happiness and prosperity.

No comments:

Post a Comment